A hatted Crows Nest gem stepping up the North Shore's fine dining game with a seriously impressive wine list.
While everyone's been wining and dining in Surry Hills, Darlinghurst and Newtown, Crows Nest has been sitting on one of Sydney's best-kept foodie secrets. Hailing itself as "the best dining experience north of the bridge" (big call), Annata brings inventive Italian dishes from an exciting young chef and an unbridled love of wine to its humble neighbourhood surrounds.
Unlike many of the other long, narrow spaces on Willoughby Road, this one doesn't sell hand soaps or cardigans. Instead, you'll find a hatted brick-walled wine cave serving seasonal produce-driven food with a perfectly paired drop patiently waiting.
Owner John Bligh brought his passion for hospitality to the restaurant when he took over operations during the pandemic, pushing the menu to more intriguing places with the help of the new Head Chef Jordan Garcia.
Garcia's menu changes every six weeks, ensuring it's built around fresh seasonal produce, delivered daily. Italian sensibilities run through the dishes, but the Anatta team isn't afraid to stray from the classics. While each time you visit, you'll be presented with a fresh selection of eats, you'll be treated with a mix of the expected — like marinated olives, Bass Strait beef tartare or ricotta and chilli fregola — and the unique — like toast soldiers with smoked eel, coffee-cured ocean trout or Japanese cheesecake.
The simplest way to approach the menu is to opt for the five-course sampler which guides you through that six-week period top picks for $95, or $185 with wine pairings. If you can afford it, the wine pairings are a must — this is a haven for one of the most impressive collections of bottles on this side of the bridge.
Whether you decide to indulge in the pairing experience or just after a solitary glass, Restaurant Manager and Sommelier Cisco Ramirez and the Annata staff can guide you through the possibly intimidating 250+ wine list personally curated by Ramirez.
Bligh's ownership has also brought with it a push for Annata to be a neighbourhood mingling spot, introducing events like the Wine Lover's Club tasting afternoons, regular wine-driven degustations highlight drops from specific regions, and Chef's Tuesday Tasting, at which you can be the first to sample the latest dishes Ramirez has been whipping up.
Adding further to the community feel is the ongoing art auction running on the walls of Annata. Bligh and the team invite local artists to exhibit their works in the restaurant with price tags, so if you see a piece you like as you're enjoying your duck breast, you can take it home with you.
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